“In states and cities across the country, lawmakers are expressing new skepticism about privatization, imposing new conditions on government contracting, and demanding more oversight.”
— The Atlantic, 4/23/14
“Is privatization a magic wand? Is it always going to come in and save you money? No. You have to do this well. You have to do your due diligence. You have to do a good contract and then you have to monitor and enforce that contract.”
— Leonard Gilroy, Reason Foundation Director of Government Reform
“The ideological fervor for privatization has ebbed.”
— John D. Donahue, privatization expert, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government
Statements like these would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. For decades, runaway outsourcing of public services and assets enjoyed nearly nonstop momentum at the state and local levels. But when even the Reason Foundation is agreeing with us about responsible contracting,
When the car in front of you gets pulled over for speeding and you’re going just as fast, you tend to slow down.
Judging from a story in last Friday’s L.A. Times, this sort of common-sense approach may not be so common at the Santa Monica headquarters of the film and TV studio, Lionsgate. According to the Times’ reporting, Lionsgate is the last major studio to retain its unpaid internship program after the rest of the entertainment industry has started to pay interns.
The industry’s problems began in 2011, when interns working on the film Black Swan for Fox Searchlight filed a class action suit against the company, claiming violations of federal labor law. (Companies are not allowed to use interns as a source of free labor as viewed by the U.S. Department of Labor.) Following the Black Swan suit,
We already know that reckless outsourcing has negative impacts on the local community. But did you know it can also contribute to climate change? In a new op-ed I just published in Next City, Roosevelt University Professor Stephanie Farmer and I explore how poorly structured public-private partnership (P3) deals threaten long-term environmental sustainability.
To do it, we return to an old standby: Chicago’s parking meter debacle. Plans to build rapid bus lines and bike lanes have been put on hold in the Windy City because these projects would “compete” with the Morgan Stanley-backed corporate consortium that now runs the city’s 36,000 parking meters. And like so many other long-term outsourcing contracts, competition is a big no-no.
Chicago taxpayers would have to reimburse the consortium for lost revenue if they build projects that reduce traffic and carbon emissions – like bike lanes and bus rapid transit lines.
This afternoon the California State Assembly passed Assembly Bill 1897, which would hold companies accountable for violations of workers’ rights committed by their labor suppliers. The bill, sponsored by Assemblymember Roger Hernandez (D-West Covina), passed 45-20.
Gary Cohn recently wrote about AB 1897 for Capital & Main, noting that passage could have national implications for temporary workers and income inequality. Capital & Main’s Bill Raden and Cohn previously investigated such worker abuses taking place at agribusiness giant Taylor Farms. Labor advocates supported the bill, noting that major corporations have used staffing companies to dodge responsibility for sub-standard working conditions. Meanwhile, more than 50 business groups opposed the bill.
Last April, when Federico Lopez and his sanitation team were ordered to clean a Taylor Farms storage area, the 23-year-old didn’t like what he saw.
“I went into the hallway that they expected me to clean,” Lopez remembers. “There was pigeon feces, dead pigeons, dead bats and black mold. I’m certified for that, but the rest of my coworkers weren’t.” The crew had only been given dust masks for the job by the temporary labor contractor who employed them.
When Lopez raised concerns about the cleanup, he says Taylor Farms, which is the world’s largest producer of cut vegetables and salads, assured him everything was fine and not to bother with the mess. He says that later that evening, an equally unequipped and untrained night crew cleaned the room. Shortly after, Lopez was given his notice after only three weeks on the job.
This month Assemblyman Roger Hernandez (D-West Covina) heard Lopez’s and other stories in the Central Valley town of Tracy from about 200 mostly Latino Tracy Farms workers and family members.